Deputy Director, Research, Australian Institute of Family Studies
BA (Melb), BA(Hons) (Deakin), PhD (Deakin)
Associate Professor Daryl Higgins is the Deputy Director (Research) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, where he has responsibility for the Institute’s research program and its knowledge translation and exchange functions. The Institute undertakes a wide range of research, evaluation and dissemination projects focusing on policy- and practice-relevant issues affecting families in Australia. Daryl is also an Honorary Principal Fellow at the Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, the University of Melbourne.
Daryl is a registered psychologist, and has been researching child abuse, family violence, sexuality and family functioning since 1993. He has extensive experience in managing and supervising research, and has led projects looking at child abuse and neglect, child protection, children in out-of-home care, child-safe organisations, Family Court processes for responding to allegations of child abuse, caring for a family member with a disability, welfare reform, family and interpersonal violence, jobless families, past adoption and forced family separation practices, and community development approaches to child and family welfare issues. He has considerable experience in qualitative and quantitative evaluation methodology and frameworks, and has a sound knowledge of state and territory policy contexts across Australia.
Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson is a Jiman (central west Queensland) and Bundjalung (northern New South Wales) woman, with Anglo-Celtic and German heritage. Her academic contributions to the understanding of trauma related issues stemming from the violence of colonisation and the healing/recovery of Indigenous peoples from such trauma has won her the Carrick Neville Bonner Award in 2006 for her curriculum development and innovative teaching practice. In 2011 she was awarded the Fritz Redlick Memorial Award for Human Rights and Mental Health from the Harvard University program for refugee trauma.
Her book ‘Trauma Trails – Recreating Songlines: The transgenerational effects of trauma in Indigenous Australia’, provides context to the life stories of people who have been moved from their country in a process that has created trauma trails, and the changes that can occur in the lives of people as they make connection with each other and share their stories of healing.
She is a member of the Harvard Global Mental Health Scientific Research Alliance. She presently serves on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Scientific Advisory Committee on Closing the Gap research, and is on the Board of Directors of the Aboriginal and Torres Stait Islander Healing Foundation and sits on both the Education and Training Advisory Committee, and the Research Advisory Committee. She is the Patron of the We Al-li Trust.
Eleonora De Michele has been working in the child and family welfare field, specialising in child protection, for the past 35 years. Eleonora has worked in a range of capacities in this field, including working for the Department of Family and Community Services for a number of years. Her career experience includes: Caseworker, Manager Casework with responsibilities in the supervision, Manager Client Services of various Community Service Centres, FaCS Child Protection policy advisor, and Senior Child Protection trainer.
For the past fifteen years Eleonora has worked as an independent consultant, providing a range of clinical and non-clinical services to various government and non-government organisations with child and family service intervention responsibilities. These services include, but are not limited to:
1. Community consultations and documentation of recommendations addressing child and family welfare legislation, including the child protection legislation, domestic violence legislation and service delivery models, models of interagency collaboration within and across indigenous communities
2. Child and Family Welfare Conference co-ordination and facilitation
3. Provision of training and development services, including the research, development, documentation and facilitation of a wide range of child and family welfare curricula, specialising in child protection issues. Customers include both government and non-government agencies.
4. Clinical services including staff supervision, policy advice, child and family welfare case consultation and case reviews, specialising in serious risk of harm assessments and child death reviews
5. Case reviews and clinical assessments, specialising in child protection and Out-of-Home Care assessments.
Mary Jo has a Master degree in Social Work from Belfast, Northern Ireland where she started working with children who have experienced abuse and trauma. More than 25 years later Mary Jo is still passionate in her belief about the strength of children’s spirit and is inspired by all they have taught her about resilience. She has let her passion for child protection work be known by speaking at various national and international conferences, publishing journal articles, writing books and supporting children, carers and agencies through training, consultation and supervision.
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